Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flushing Your Troubles Away

Normally when the term "toilet" is used in a Georgian context the image of a lady sitting at a dressing table comes to mind.  Did you know, though, that the flushing toilet existed at the time?  It's difficult to picture when we know this was the time period when these were still popular.  But believe it or not, the likes of Thomas Jefferson were sitting upon this flushing water closet.

The flushing water closet is very English.  The first flushing toilet was made for Queen Elizabeth, who was delighted by the new, yet unreliable invention.  I suppose that means "throne" is a rather accurate nickname.  The model obviously didn't catch on, despite Liz's affection for it.  Next, a real Renaissance man, Alexander Cummings took the idea and improved upon it.  He installed a lever on the primitive toilet which you would slide aside and therefore create an exit for the unwanted waste.  New water would come in as the waste would hopefully move into the sewers.  Perhaps the smartest part about the invention was that Cummings got a patent for it in 1775.  It is always good to protect yourself!

Bramah's useful contraption
Three years later a clever locksmith/plumber by the name of Joseph Bramah was installing some of Cummings' patented invention and couldn't help but notice that the water in the toilet would freeze on especially cold days which didn't help anyone.  He replaced the sliding valve with a flap that sealed off the bottom of the bowl.  Now the toilet water wouldn't freeze and as an added bonus: those sewer smells stopped traveling up the pipes and into your house.  The description reminds me a bit of those frightening airplane bathrooms that we so enjoy while in mid-air. 

Of course the modern flush toilet as we know it wasn't to arrive until the following century.  Ironically, the inventor who is responsible for that was named Thomas Crapper.

6 comments:

aurora said...

Interesting post. We take toilets for granted but it took some time to invent them
This is superb irony that the man who created them as we know it is named Thomas Crapper LOL!!!

Retro Blog said...

My favorite modern convenience is indeed the flush toilet, I do not require anything else other than it flush reliably over and over and over. Thank god for plumbers.

Anonymous said...

I think the word "crap" was actually derived from his name, because his toliet was called a/the "crapper."

Helluva a way to be immortalized--by a slang word for poo.--Heidilea

Heather Carroll said...

Surprisingly, that's a historical myth. Strange, that we managed to get "crap" and "crapper" from something else!

Miss Honnête said...

Does anyone know if the last name "Crapper" is still in currency? Poor Wretched descendants!

Oh I almost forgot to tell you. Have you heard of the latest toilette technology in the world? I'm sure our Dear Queen Lizzie would have given her kingdom for one of this, in a dreadfully cold winter night.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn3OfkDgEho

Shiver my Timbers! kohler should pay me for the ad service I'm doing right now...

Heather Carroll said...

That was amazing. However I'm disturbed by the all-glass bathroom with a light-up seat to draw more attention. ...Not to mention that creepy phallic looking bidet thing!